On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Chancellor Fariña, and Commissioner Agarwal announced new guidance to schools around requests for access to schools and records by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Key provisions of the guidance include: sending the ICE officer outside the school while ICE’s paperwork is checked, requiring the principal to consult with the Senior Field Counsel before responding to ICE, notifying the parent after consulting with the Senior Field Counsel, and requiring judicial warrants as access criteria.
Following is a statement from Steven Choi, Esq., Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. The NYIC coordinates an Education Collaborative, which comprises immigrant grassroots community based organizations working with public school students and parents.
“We thank the Mayor, Speaker, Chancellor and Commissioner for taking another step forward today with this important guidance, following on the information that went out to parents and principals on January 30th. Specifying the process and criteria that schools will use to determine ICE access - and making them public for immigrant families - is essential to building trust with immigrant communities.
We commend the Department of Education for hearing our input and preventing ICE from waiting inside schools, while it's determined whether ICE has met the criteria to be there in the first place. This is absolutely vital to safeguarding the learning environment, and protects students and parents inside our schools. We also thank the Department of Education for including parent notification in the official protocol. Finally, we fully agree that requiring ICE to produce a valid judicial warrant before a school is entered is an absolute necessity.
Our Collaborative believes additional criteria should be included to give parents a further sense of protection. In order to safeguard parents around the school, New York City should require that ICE be sent away from the school property while ICE’s paperwork is checked. The majority of other districts who have announced similar guidance require ICE to clear the hurdle of superintendent approval, several require advance notice, and we believe that a similar standard should be adopted by New York City as well.
We hope to continue working with the City and Department of Education on these issues so that New York can truly lead our nation in safeguarding our immigrant students and families."
The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.